It’s an ALCS matchup that only Bill Belichick could love. Yes, the Boston Red Sox meet the Houston Astros with a date in the 2021 World Series on the line.
The Astros took out the White Sox in four games to advance to their fifth straight ALCS while the Red Sox upset the Rays to return to the ALCS for the first time since 2018.
So, who has the betting edge in Game 1 of the ALCS? Find out with our free MLB betting picks and predictions for Red Sox and Astros on Friday, October 15.
Red Sox vs Astros odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
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Red Sox vs Astros picks
Picks made on 10/15/2021 at 10:42 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Red Sox vs Astros game info
• Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
• Date: Friday, October 15, 2021
• Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
• TV: FOX
Red Sox vs Astros betting preview
Chris Sale (Postseason: 0-0, 45.00 ERA): Sale had his ups and downs since returning from Tommy John surgery in late August. The lefty ended the regular season with a 3.16 ERA and nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings. But opponents hit .269 off him this season and he got crushed in his lone postseason appearance against the Rays.
Framber Valdez (Postseason: 0-0, 8.31 ERA): After being a reliable arm for the Astros for most of the season, Valdez has struggled a bit down the stretch. Valdez is a sinker-ball pitcher, but his sinker seems to have lost its bite recently and the lefty has been hit hard. In fact, he ranks in the bottom 10 percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.
Red Sox vs Astros series odds
Red Sox: +125
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.
Red Sox: Garrett Richards P (Questionable).
Astros: Rafael Montero RP (Questionable).
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 5-2 in Framber Valdez’s last seven starts and 5-1 in the Red Sox's last six games overall. Find more MLB betting trends for Red Sox vs. Astros.
Red Sox vs Astros predictions
Red Sox (+125)
Yes, fans of integrity of the game won’t love this matchup, but this is what we’re stuck with so we may as well bet it.
The Astros return to the ALCS thanks to the best lineup in the Big Leagues. Houston ranked first in the MLB in batting average, second in scoring, and OPS. Plus, they are the hardest team to strike out in baseball. That offense was on full display in their series win over the White Sox, plating a ridiculous 48 runs in four games.
But the Red Sox have a lineup that will have a good chance to match the Astros success, finishing the regular season ranked third in average and OPS, and fourth in scoring. After getting shut out by the Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS, the BoSox put up 26 runs over the final three games to win the series.
While this is a matchup of two potent lineups, the pitching may leave a little something to de desired. (More about Sale and Valdez down below). Losing McCullers is a big deal for the Astros, while it will be interesting to see if guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta can still give the Red Sox solid innings.
For this matchup, it’s pretty close to a toss-up. Both starters are struggling, going into matchups against lineups who mash lefties. With little separating these teams we’ll lean towards getting the value with the underdog in Game 1.
Over 8.5 (-110)
While the side feels like more of a toss-up, you can have a little more confidence with the total. The early money has bumped the number up from the opening number of 8 to 8.5. And I’ve got to agree with that sentiment.
We’ve already talked about how both lineups come into this game hot, but when you mix in some struggling starters, that makes us love the Over even more.
When it comes to Sale, he has been effective at times since his return, but he certainly isn’t the dominant guy we have been used to over the years. Sale has been finding too much of the plate and has been getting hit more than normal. And in his lone start against the Rays, the lefty lasted just one inning allowing five runs on four hits.
On the other side, Valdez had a 3.99 ERA and a 4.99 FIP over five starts in the month of September. Valdez was a little better than Sale in his first postseason start this year, but not much. He pitched 4 1-3 innings allowing four runs on seven hits against the White Sox.
When you mix in a pair of average at-best bullpens, there are plenty of reasons to like the Over in Game 1.
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